Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Ivorian Crisis and the Global Trend toward Authoritarianism

The recent elections in Ivory Coast were essentially similar to the ones in Burma earlier this year and Belarus earlier this month. The incumbent dictatorships in those two states remained in power after winning rigged elections. Unlike the dictators of the other two states, the Ivorian president, Laurent Gbagbo, had been elected originally. He lost reelection recently, but had the election results in favor of the opposition candidate overturned on spurious grounds. Thus, like the Burmese and Belarusian dictators, Gbagbo has remained in power after effectively after thwarting the democratic will expressed in an election.

The opposition Ivorian candidate, Alessane Ouatarra, a Muslim, is supported mostly in the Muslim north, while the Christian Gbagbo’s base of support is in the Christian south. Tensions between these two sides led to a civil war in the mid-2000s, although it was not a relatively bloody one by African standards. The current crisis is causing fear of a renewed outbreak of war, as there has already been some violence over the election dispute. France intervened against the government of the former French colony during the Ivorian Civil War. This time, the West African states are threatening to remove the Ivorian president by force if he does not resign. Although Ouatarra is a Muslim, a source who spent years in Ivory Coast until the outbreak of the Civil War informs me that the opposition candidate is not a militant Islamist.

The undemocratic elections in Burma, Belarus and Ivory Coast, like the rule by decree powers granted to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez that I posted on earlier this month, represent a countertrend toward authoritarianism in response to the more than two-decade-long global trend of democratization. Although representative republics have been established in some states in recent years, like Iraq, there has been a strong authoritarian backlash, most notably in supposedly democratic Russia, while dictatorships have clung to power in several states where their tyranny has been challenged. Russia, Venezuela, Iran and others have developed friendly relations with each other and encouraged the authoritarian trend. Their participation in a de facto Axis of Rogues will be the subject of a future post.

In the meantime, free people and those who wish to be free must stand for self-determination, the rule of law and liberty.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas; Thoughts on Christian Pilgrims in the Holy Land and Arab Christians

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas! Thank you for visiting my blog.

I would like to take this opportunity to note my vindication for something I observed two years ago at the first Christmas since I launched this blog. At that time, I noted that there were more Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land than the year before, which had been the first year of an increase in pilgrims after a sharp decline. This year, the number of pilgrims is at a record high. Tens of thousands of Christians have made pilgrimages to the birthplace of Christ to celebrate His birth.

The restoration of the right of Christians to express their religion by making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land without fear of terrorism is one of the most striking achievements of the War on Terrorism, including the Liberation of Iraq, which removed from power Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, who had sent aid to Palestinian suicide bombers who targeted and killed Americans. The passage of time since the last Palestinian intifadah and the relative peace that has ensued has also contributed to a sense of security.

The return of pilgrims to the Holy Land should give hope to the beleaguered Christians in the Middle East, as the pilgrims are not only appreciated for the boost they provide to the economy for the local Jews and Muslims, but serve to remind Arab Muslims that Arab Christians are not practitioners of a foreign, Western religion, but are fellow Arabs who have been practicing their Eastern religion for thousands of years. Therefore, Arab Christians ought to be trusted and respected as loyal, integral members of the Arab nation. May God bless the Christians in the Holy Land. Peace to all men of good will.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Foreign Updates: Venezuela, Iraq, Italy


Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez strengthened his increasingly authoritarian rule by getting the national legislature to allow him to rule by decree. The move by the lame-duck legislature bypasses the incoming legislature, in which the minority opposition won enough seats in the recent election to block the government’s initiatives.

When United States President George W. Bush did not oppose an attempted coup against Chavez, liberal Democrats criticized him for supposedly not supporting democracy because Chavez had been elected. If it were not clear enough for liberals to see then that Venezuela was no longer a democracy, it has become increasingly clear ever since.


The Iraqis finalized their government by naming the various ministers and other officers. Shi’ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish parties were able to form a coalition several months after elections in which no party had won a majority. Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi’ite, will serve again as Prime Minister in the new government.

I daresay Iraq is more democratic than Venezuela. Liberals who had predicted that Iraq would never become democratic, especially during the several months of negotiations to form the coalition government, have been proven wrong repeatedly by the Iraqi people. The liberals are still complaining that it took the Iraqis so long and are characterizing the coalition as shaky because of Iraq's ethnic tensions, as if they are hoping for Iraq to fail in order not to be proven wrong.


After being rebuffed by the Union of Christian and Center Democrats, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who had tried to add them to his governing coalition, has regained the support of several Members of Parliament who had joined the Speaker in a vote of no-confidence earlier this month, according to ANSA, the Italian news agency. Berlusconi had obtained the confidence of Parliament by three votes, avoiding his resignation. His success in adding to his parliamentary majority decreases the likelihood of snap elections, at least until after the federalism reforms are passed in a few months.

The recent passage of Italy's budget and its political stability have helped it avoid a wave of downgrades in European bond ratings.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Conservative Alternatives to Earmarks

Earmarks are the specific designations by legislators of money appropriated by the Legislative Branch of government. Earmarks do not increase the amount of money spent, but designate it specifically instead of delegating the discretion to spend it to the Executive Branch.

Members of the United States Congress justify earmarking because the federal government takes money from the people of their districts. The representatives of the people seek to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is spent in their district, instead of in other districts, which they accomplish by means of earmarking appropriations for specific purposes. Indeed, earmarks are usually made by legislators for their own districts in order that their constituents receive their “fair share” of the benefits of their taxes.

As a result, earmarks are often made by members of Congress for special interests that might be of importance to a particular congressional district, but not necessarily to the federal Union as a whole, which is why money is not earmarked by the open legislative process, but unilaterally by individual legislators. In other words, earmarks are not considered in committee, debated in public, or ever voted upon specifically either in committee or on the floor of either chamber. Congress considers the approval of the appropriations bill as a whole. Although earmarks do not increase spending, they are symbolic of pork (spending by legislators for particular interests in their individual districts).

The moratorium on earmarks proposed by the incoming Republican Congressional majority would, therefore, increase openness and public debate because specific appropriations would have to be considered in committee and debated there, in addition to on the floor. Thus, the merits of the proposed appropriations would have to be considered instead of slipped into bills without any consideration.

Some legislators have objected to the arguments in favor of ending the practice of earmarking on the grounds that failing to earmark would violate the Separation of Powers. They argue that it is the responsibility of the Legislative Branch to appropriate money, not the Executive Branch. However, Congress has been deferring to the President to a large extent for decades, even in appropriations bills, despite the practice of earmarking. Congress appropriates sums of money, but unless Congress specifies how it is to be spent, it delegates to the President the discretion of how the money is spent. The remedy, therefore, is for the Congress to be more specific in its appropriation. Instead of earmarks, it ought to draft more specific language in appropriations bills. Such a remedy would accomplish the aforementioned benefits of a moratorium of earmarks while maintaining the Separation of Powers.

But I have a more comprehensive proposal – one that would be based upon the principle of federalism intended by the Framers of the Constitution: limit all appropriations by Congress only to matters of federal interest. Members of Congress should restrain their urge to spend money and to be seen as having enough clout to “bring home the bacon” and allow the people to keep their money in the first place, instead of allowing the federal government to take money from the people and then contending with each other over the return of that money. The practice of Congress of overtaxing and overspending and then ingratiating itself with its constituents for what morsels of their money it is able to return to the people after the federal bureaucratic middlemen have taken their cut must end.

Therefore, my solution would restore both federalism and fiscal responsibility. It would restore the rights of the states, as well as increase the liberty of the people to spend their money as they see fit.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Beware Clinton Nostalgia

There has been much nostalgia lately for former United States President Bill Clinton. Republicans who were considering a compromise between the current GOP-led Congress and President Barak Obama have been recalling fondly the compromises between the Republican-led Congress and Clinton to cut taxes, balance the budget through spending cuts and reform welfare. In addition, a recent public opinion survey ranked Clinton behind only John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan in popularity among modern presidents. His popularity has even increased. Clinton also recently conducted a press conference at the White House briefing room on behalf of Obama. Finally, Clinton and Obama Administration diplomat Richard Holbrooke was praised in the liberal media after his recent death.

Conservatives should especially beware the Clinton nostalgia. Although Clinton deserves credit for signing key parts of the Congressional Republicans’ Contract with American into law, these acts must be considered in their context. Clinton had raised income taxes, which were not lowered until his successor took office. At the same time, he increased spending, despite the labeling of his tax increases as a “deficit reduction” plan, as I have noted previously. The balanced budget achieved later in his Administration tends to obscure the fact that Clinton’s spending over the course of his two terms in office added nearly a trillion dollars to the federal debt; the temporary budget surpluses of his last years did not make up for the massive deficits he had produced beforehand, despite his drastic cuts to defense and intelligence.

In other domestic matters, Clinton earned the reputation as the “Abortion President” before Obama has since wrested the title from him, he weakened the right to bear arms, and he appointed liberal judges. Except in his trade policy, Clinton was a disaster on foreign policy. His fiasco in Somalia emboldened al-Qaeda by suggesting the U.S. was a pushover that feared casualties more than defeat, he failed to respond adequately to the emerging terrorist threat, he appeased North Korea and he gave missile technology to China.

The praise for Holbrooke is typical of liberals toward fellow liberals who failed. The Clinton Administration did little while a Communist-led genocide campaign called “ethnic cleansing” was being conducted on NATO’s flank in the former Yugoslavia. Only after hundreds of thousands of mostly civilian deaths and even more dislocations did it finally react and force peace negotiations. Holbrooke then negotiated with the Yugoslav Communist dictator, Slobodon Milosovic, legitimatizing this war criminal by using him as a guarantor of the peace accords. The accords accepted the status quo, meaning that instead of insisting upon the right of return for refugees, they ratified the ethnic cleansing inspired by Milosovic. An artificial Bosnian state was created and American “peacekeeping” troops sent in to act as human shields between the divided ethnic groups. Clinton’s policy failed to teach Milosovic a lesson, which required a lengthy U.S. air campaign when the “Butcher of Belgrade” later opened a new ethnic cleansing campaign in Kosovo. Yet Clinton and Holbrooke have boasted about and been praised for their diplomacy ever since, usually without any objection. But then, Clinton does not have a reputation for honesty.

In short, Clinton might have been better in some respects than the current president on domestic matters, although at least Obama has never raised income taxes, but Clinton was far worse on defense and foreign policy. Conservatives are right to recall the beneficial policies of the Clinton Administration, such as his cut of the capital gains tax, and to use them as examples for Obama, but they should be careful not to get carried away with nostalgia for one of the worst presidents in American history and should consider the entire context of his eight years in office.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Berlusconi's Government Wins Its Confidence Vote

The center-right Government of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi won its confidence vote in both houses of Parliament. The lower house today gave its confidence to Berlusconi's government by a 317-314 margin. The vote was sought by the Speaker of Parliament who had split with Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party.

The vote avoids a resignation by the Premier and the formation of a caretaker government. Instead, Berlusconi will be able to try to form a coalition with the Union of Christian and Center Democrats (UDC), a centrist Catholic Party that was a former partner in his previous government. The UDC had joined the opposition on the confidence vote. Failing a coalition with the centrists, Berlusconi would call elections, likely after the federalist reforms demanded by his major coalition partner, the Northern League, are approved early next year.

Italian political stability reassures confidence in the European economy and the European Monetary Union. Instability was the greatest threat to Italy's economy, especially after the approval of its budget, which continues the government's austerity program. Following the bailouts of Greece and Ireland, Pressure remains most immediately on Portugal, while Spain looms as the biggest threat to Europe's economy. The Portuguese are insisting that they will not need a bailout, while Spain is under less financial strain than its Iberian neighbor, but more than Italy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

“Arabian Gulf” vs. “Persian Gulf”

There has long been a controversy over the name of the gulf in the Indian Ocean between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. The Iranians call it the “Persian Gulf” and the Arabs the “Arabian Gulf.” This controversy has arisen again recently because Iran objects to the United States Navy’s referral of the body of water as the “Arabian Gulf,” as has been its historical practice.

The U.S. Navy’s referral to this body of water as the “Arabian Gulf” validates my argument that the popular name for the Liberation of Kuwait should not be called the “Persian Gulf War,” which was not its official government name. In my post, Media Errors on Afghanistan and Iraq, from May of 2009, I had mentioned more significant factors than the dispute over the name of the body of water in order to make my case: that the war was not fought primarily in or on the shores of the Gulf, unlike the Iraqi-Iranian War, and that the name “Persian Gulf War,” now often called “The First Persian Gulf War” or “Gulf War I” is less distinguishable from the subsequent Liberation of Iraq. I did not mention the name dispute because historical evidence seemed to weigh in favor of the name “Persian Gulf.” But the Naval reference to that body of water as the “Arabian Gulf” proves my point more than I had realized that the war should not be called the “Persian Gulf War” because now it is clear that calling it by that name would violate U.S. practice in favor of the Iran, the mortal enemy of the U.S., whose confidence we ought not to bolster with the honor of using their traditional name. Regardless, the Naval reference also proves that the federal government would not have called the war the “Persian Gulf War” because it would have been inconsistent with its own practice, which proves the point I made in my earlier post that this popular name for the war was made up by the media, not the U.S.

The unelected media, known for liberal bias, as well as factual and grammatical errors, has no authority to name a war. Conservatives should call the first war led by the United States against Iraq “The Liberation of Kuwait” and the second one, which was legally a continuation of the first war because of Iraqi violations of the 1991 cease-fire, “The Liberation of Iraq.” These official names more accurately explain the purposes of these wars than the popular names contrived by the liberal media.

Update: A Federal Judge Rules the Federal Mandate to Purchase Health Insurance Unconstitutional

United States Federal District Judge Henry Hudson granted Virginia’s motion for summary judgment against the federal mandate to purchase health insurance, a key provision of the Obama Administration’s federalization of health insurance.

The judge ruled that the mandate exceeded Congress’ authority under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution because it does not regulate an economic activity, but regulates the passive decision not to engage in interstate commerce by not purchasing health insurance. This provision of the health insurance federalization act would be unprecedented, as Congress has never required a resident of the U.S. to purchase a good or service as a condition of residence.

In the Virginia case, the Obama Administration did not rely upon the ridiculous argument advanced by liberal members of Congress, the liberal media and other commentators, and even the President himself, that the mandate to purchase health insurance is like state mandates to purchase car insurance. As I have noted previously, the mandates to purchase car insurance are imposed by states, not the federal government, and are imposed only upon individuals who choose to exercise the privilege to drive on public roads, not upon all residents.

States do not impose upon all residents a mandate to purchase car insurance under the theory that the failure of an individual to purchase car insurance necessarily increases the cost of car insurance for those who do drive, which was the Obama Administration’s theory in the health insurance case. If the Administration had prevailed, then it could impose a penalty on every American resident for the failure to purchase milk, for example, on the theory that such failure increases the cost for everyone else. The Administration’s argument was based in part on the theory that every individual will necessarily use health care at some point in his life. Regardless of this unproven assertion, the Administration also relies upon the liberal assumption that a person who lacks health insurance necessarily cannot afford to pay for health care himself.

The Obama Administration had argued alternatively that the penalty for failure to comply with the mandate was a tax, for which it would have constitutional authority, even though the act refers to the provision as a “penalty.” Regardless of the language of the act, the judge ruled that the provision was intended as a regulation, not to raise revenue.

Virginia’s lawsuit, which certainly will be appealed by the Obama Administration, is separate from Florida’s suit that has been joined by 20 states, with more expected to join. The Administration similarly had failed to win its motion to dismiss Florida’s suit based upon the same issue.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Update: The U.S. Senate Convicts a Clinton-Appointed Federal Judge

The United States Senate has convicted Federal District Judge Thomas Porteous and removed him from office. The Senate convicted him on all four Articles of Impeachment approved by the House of Representatives. The charges concerned corruption; the judge had accepted money because of his gambling addiction, among other high crimes and misdemeanors. Porteous, a Democrat from Louisiana, had been appointed to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton.

Porteous becomes only the eighth federal judge ever impeached and convicted. What was novel in this case was that some of the behavior for which he was impeached preceded his appointment to the bench, but proved that he and others had lied during his background investigation.

Foreign Updates: Italy, Georgia, Korea


Italy has approved its closely-watched 2011 budget, which continues its austerity program that I have posted about previously. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s budget decreases spending in order to reduce Italy’s large deficit significantly, while further cracks down on delinquent taxpayers, ANSA, the Italian news agency, is reporting. The only taxes increased were on gambling, ANSA reported. Italy’s fiscal condition is of critical importance to Europe, which is trying to limit the fiscal contagion from Greece and Ireland, both of which have been bailed out by the European Union. Portugal is under the next most pressure, followed by Spain. The latter has by far the largest economy of the four European states under fiscal strain, and thereby poses the greatest threat of contagion. The Italian economy, the seventh largest in gross domestic product in the world, is significantly larger than Spain’s.

Nevertheless, Berlusconi’s government of faces a no-confidence vote on December 14 after the Speaker of Parliament had bolted from the Premier’s center-right governing party and is forming a centrist coalition to deny the government confidence, ANSA reported. In a parliamentary system, a government must resign if it loses a no-confidence vote. Elections would be called. A caretaker government might be formed in the meantime with or without Berlusconi leading it.


Recently leaked cables reveal that the United States suspected Russia of waging a sometimes violent campaign of aggression against Georgia since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, especially after the election of its pro-Western president, Mikheil Saakasvhili in 2004, the Washington Times reported. Russia had blamed the Georgians for provoking the war between the two states in 2008. The cables validate Georgia’s claims that the Russians had been supporting separatist movements in its southern neighbor in the Caucuses, which necessitated a Georgian defense. Russia was allowed to escape unpunished for the war in which it established puppet states in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which are widely expected eventually to be assumed back into Russia. See also my post from April of 2009, NATO Forgives Russia for Georgian Invasion.


The new South Korean Defense Minister has threatened to bomb North Korea if the Communist state attacks South Korea again. His predecessor had resigned recently after being criticized for the government’s weak response to the latest North Korean attack, the first one that targeted civilians since the end of the Korean War in 1953. The bloody shelling of a South Korean island followed the North Korean sinking of a South Korean naval vessel by torpedo earlier this year, an attack for which North Korea was left unpunished, except by United Nations sanctions. The UN is not expected to increase sanctions on the rogue regime after the attack because of opposition from Communist China, Communist North Korea’s neighbor and ally. The South Korean threat of a reprisal represents a belated, but sharp shift from the accomodationist policies of the previous liberal government. The North Koreans are usually the ones doing the threatening on the Korean Peninsula. The Communist regime has become accustomed to bullying with impunity, at least in military terms. Sometimes, its threats have even been rewarded with appeasement from their southern neighbors and the United States. A South Korean threat against its northern neighbor might be what is necessary to deter a third attack from the North.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Political Updates: Updated 2010 Elections Figures; Rendell Vetoes the Castle Doctrine

Updated 2010 Elections Figures

Now that the last votes are being counted from the 2010 Elections, I can report more specific numbers. The Republicans have gained a net of 63 seats in the United States House of Representatives, which will give them a 242-192 advantage, their largest in over six decades. The GOP picked up the most seats in New York: six, now that the final outcome in all but one race has been determined, which broke a three-way tie of five seats with Pennsylvania and Ohio. Republicans gained six Senate seats, for a total of 47 out of 100.

The GOP also gained a net of five governor’s offices, for a total of 29, among other statewide offices, numerous state legislative bodies and nearly 700 hundred state legislative seats. In Pennsylvania, the Republicans won 122 of the 203 seats in the state House of Representatives to gain the majority for the first time in four years, while retaining 30 out of 50 seats in the state Senate.

Rendell Vetoes the Castle Doctrine

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, vetoed the Castle Doctrine bill approved by the General Assembly during its lame duck session. Both chambers of the state legislature had approved it overwhelmingly. Governor-elect Tom Corbett, a Republican, has promised to sign the bill into law. It will have to be reintroduced in the new, GOP majority-General Assembly that takes office in January.

Second Anniversary of My Blog; Discovery of Its Much Greater Popularity

I am posting this report in commemoration of the second anniversary of my blog, which I launched on November 27, 2008. I am pleased to report that it is much more popular than I realized, apparently by orders of magnitude.

Statcounter tracks pageviews from visitors that do not block its ability to track them. Blogger, the host of my blog, began in June to track and log all pageviews, but with far less specificity. For the first few months, I did not even notice the existence of Blogger’s statistics. Even once I did, I thought they must have been erroneous, as it was reporting far more activity than Statcounter in terms of pageviews (although some of these were my own until I blocked them in order not to inflate the total), countries of origin and particular posts viewed. Because Blogger was reporting the data more imprecisely, however, I could not make sense of it until a fellow blogger who uses the same host mentioned to me privately about those who block the counter’s ability to track all of their pageviews, much as I block its ability to track my own so as not to inflate the total. It was only then that I suddenly realized that Blogger’s statistical information was, in fact, accurate.

What Blogger’s statistics revealed were helpful once I analyzed them more closely, although because it does not track individual visitors, I cannot distinguish between pageviews and visits. Blogger’s statistics reveal that there have been many more pageviews of my blog, both from the United States and around the world. There have been two and a half times more pageviews from foreign states than I had known, especially in Europe! For example, there have been several score pageviews more than I had known from the Netherlands, Russia and Germany each. There have also been dozens from Latvia, from which I previously had been unaware of any, as well as dozens more from France than I had known. The next highest total comes from Poland. Since I have recently begun to observe Blogger’s statistics on a daily basis, I have noticed additionally that my blog has been visited from several other foreign states, from which I had not been aware of any visits, especially from Eastern Europe. Also, not only are some of my posts even more popular than I had known but, more of them have been viewed.

These findings perhaps reveal that what had seemed like a relative dearth of visits to my blog from Continental Europe was not true. They also explain a number of phenomena: the greater number of pageviews of my profile than I had been noticing that Statcounter had tracked, comments on posts that occasionally did not correspond to the times of any visits that day, and private compliments about my blog from acquaintances that I could not identify as having visited it at all.

The main discovery is that my blog is visited significantly more frequently and by a wider audience than I had known. I am grateful to both Statcounter and Blogger for their tracking services, but especially to you, my visitors. You have made this blog successful these first two years. Thank you!

I recommend to my loyal visitors who are fellow bloggers with the same blog host to also analyze Blogger’s statistics.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Conservative Thanksgiving Thoughts

A controversy has developed over intensive searches of air passengers in the United States imposed by the liberal Obama Administration after the successful Christmas Day Bombing terrorist attack in 2009. Libertarians are protesting what they claim are invasions of privacy. A conservative response is necessary, as conservatism is balanced between liberalism, which is the belief that government should do almost everything, and libertarianism, which is the belief that government should do almost nothing. Conservatives recognize that government exists to protect our liberty, including the right to life.

There is a right to travel, but no right to fly. Like driving, which makes use of public roads, flying is a privilege, because it makes use of public facilities (federal air traffic control, for example). One has right to privacy, but there is no right to privacy in engaging in a public act, such as flying. A search of one’s person legally must be reasonable, but because of terrorism and other crimes, it is not unreasonable to search passengers boarding aircraft for weapons (e.g. guns or explosives). A metal detector is hardly invasive of privacy, although the new, more revealing scanning devices, which are necessary in order to detect non-metallic explosives, do raise legitimate privacy concerns about possible violations of one’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Regardless, entrance to public places or the use of mass transit implies consent for such searches.

These invasive weapons searches would be more reasonable if there were probable cause to conduct them, which is usually the measure for whether a search is reasonable. However, until the Administration adopts a practice of searching for terrorists and criminals instead of searching for weapons, such weapons searches will remain necessary in order to safeguard life, and thus, the right to travel. Indeed, weapons are not the problem. For example, United States Air Marshals are trusted to carry guns aboard civilian passenger aircraft, as are soldiers. Law-abiding citizens who have the right to keep and bear arms should also be trusted to fly, just as they are entrusted everywhere else. The problem is criminals and terrorists, not weapons and not law-abiding citizens. Neither weapons nor law-abiding citizens cause crime or terrorism; criminals and terrorists do.

Some critics of the invasive searches claim that the intensive pat-downs for those air passengers who opt out of passing through the revealing scanners amount to sexual assault. An intensive pat-downs is no more of a sexual assault than a physical examination conducted by a doctor. Physical contact is only sexual if it is intended to be sexual. There is no basis to infer necessarily such intent on the part of the security authorities who conduct these searches routinely. These invasive searches may seem to violate one’s private space, but far less than a bomb violates one’s private space.

On a related subject, it is good that the Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest of the year in the U.S. for flying, as it indicates that people want to be together with family for the holiday. However, it is indicative of how many family members nowadays live in different states from each other. I attribute these family separations across state lines in part to the loss of a public sense of federalism and loyalty to one’s state, which has been exacerbated by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the amendment most contrary to the Framers’ principle of federalism. As a result, people have come to regard permanently moving from one state to another as hardly different from moving from one municipality or county to another within one’s state, even though States are independent sovereign entities. The Fourteenth Amendment declares the residents of a state to be citizens of that state, which means that the federal government henceforth essentially has decided who is a citizen of a sovereign state, in violation of that state’s right to make such a decision itself. Therefore, for example, people must give up their citizenship in their own state even if they move to another state only temporarily for a few years, unlike when one works temporarily as a legal alien in a foreign state.

The several American States have formed a federal Union, not a new country in which these States are only provinces. Thus, permanently moving from one American State to another is little different from moving from one foreign state to another, a decision for which one might have good reason, but one that is as momentous as that taken by those who immigrated to America from abroad. Just as some aliens are attracted to America because of their belief in the American ideal, while others are attracted for lesser reasons, some Americans are attracted to certain States that better represent their beliefs, while others leave their states for lesser reasons. Too often, those Americans in the latter group move to another State even though they either know little about the heritage of their new home State or do not necessarily respect its heritage, thereby altering the unique character of that State, just as the same may be said of some aliens who immigrate to America.

We conservatives should hold fast to the principle of federalism and educate our fellow Americans about its benefits. We should cherish the diversity of the States.

May God bless the United States of America. Let us give thanks to God for life, for America, for independence, for liberty, and for the bounty He bestows upon us. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Anti-Anti-Terrorist Left

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy refers in National Review Online to some liberals as the “Anti-Anti-Terrorist Left.” His phrase is reminiscent of the description for liberals during the Cold War as the “Anti-Anti-Communists.”

It is not that liberals are pro-Communist or pro-terrorist. They simply have been opposed to many of the most significant measures to oppose Communism and terrorism. It is not that they are necessarily anti-American, but that they are so reflexively anti-nationalistic that they are necessarily sympathetic to the perceived grievances of those who are anti-Americans, and understanding and tolerant of even some of their methods of expression. Foreign opposition to the indefinite detention of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay without charge and military trials for those terrorists who are charged are examples of anti-American grievances with which the Anti-Anti-Terrorist Left sympathizes.

McCarthy is famous for his successful prosecution of Islamist terrorists in New York before the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks. He was commenting in his National Review Online column on how justice was not rendered by the verdict in this first civilian terrorist trial for the Guantanamo detainees since September 11. The terrorist defendant was acquitted of 284 counts and convicted of only one count of conspiracy to blow up the two American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, in which 224 people, including 12 Americans were killed. The terrorist was charged with 224 counts of murder, among other charges.

McCarthy noted the irrationality of a conviction for conspiracy, but acquittal of the crimes committed that arose out of the conspiracy, despite the legal principle that a conspirator is culpable for all of the crimes committed that arose from the conspiracy. The former prosecutor theorized that the verdict must have been the result of a compromise by the jury because of as few as one juror holding out for acquittal, which he declared would have been less likely in a military tribunal in which the jury is comprised of military officers. The civilian trials, of which I had warned in a post last November, The Risks and Dangers of Civilian Trials for the September 11 Terrorists, are examples of the pre-September 11 mindset typical during the Clinton Administration, under which McCarthy served, of seeing terrorism a matter to be resolved by criminal prosecution instead of as a holy war waged by militant Muslims.

Because liberals consider military tribunals to be less fair than civilian trials, they are concerned about negative foreign perception. Even though the embassy bombing case validates the view that the risks of the civilian trials outweigh any concern about foreign perception, the Anti-Anti-Terrorist Left continues to insist that they are right to oppose the more effective practice of conducting military trials.

American weakness only serves to embolden the Islamists who regard strength as a sign of the favor of Allah, and are contemptuous toward the weak, whom they regard as disfavored by Allah. Conservatives should continue to insist on legally and morally doing what best protects security and liberty, regardless of foreign perception.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The European Monetary Union Is Again in Danger of Collapse

After the bailout of Greece, the Euro, the monetary unit of the European Monetary Union, had risen in value in comparison to the United States Dollar. Some of the rise initially was because of the bailout, but most of it was because of the gradual weakening of the Dollar. The Euro has since declined somewhat amid renewed fears about the weakness of some members of the Eurozone and the potential collapse of the Monetary Union.

Austerity is the current trend in Europe, in contrast to the American spending spree. Even the socialist Europeans that United States President Barak Obama admires recently warned him that his overspending is increasing the global danger of inflation and undermining their policies of austerity.

Since then, however, Greece missed its target for its budget deficit. Its Socialist government had misreported some of its figures, an accusation it had made against the preceding conservative government, for which it blamed the crisis, despite the Socialist creation of the Greek welfare state beforehand. Greece will have to increase its austerity measures of spending cuts.

On the other end of the Eurozone, the contagion from Ireland’s fiscal troubles are spreading to Portugal, the next most vulnerable member of the European Union, where interest rates are rising. Ireland needs a bailout, but seems reluctant to admit it out of concern for the negative effects on its creditworthiness such a stigma would produce. Spain, the next most vulnerable member state, is under increased pressure to continue its austerity program.

Despite a political crisis in which the Speaker of the lower house of the Italian Parliament has withdrawn his faction of the ruling party from the government, the center-right factions remain united behind the Italian government’s proposed fiscal reform, which includes austerity. The French raised their retirement age from 60 to 62, which was enough to provoke strikes and riots, as in Greece. There were even some anti-austerity riots by students in the United Kingdom. Such scenes decrease investors’ confidence in the fiscal soundness of sovereign states, which increases interest rates on government bonds, which, in turn, increases the burden of the debt.

The more fiscally responsible Germans understandably feel that they should not have to bear the burden for their more profligate fellow members of the European Union, but their resistance to the bailouts of sovereign states might pull down not only the economies of the weaker individual member states, but the Union itself.

Although a weakening of the European economy would be harmful to the global economy, it would be a consolation to witness the collapse of the European Monetary Union and the humbling of the arrogant supranationalists who created and supported this folly, and the restoration of national sovereignty in its place, as well as a return to fiscal and monetary responsibility.

Restore Federalism: Repeal the 17th Amendment

There has been more public debate over the last several months than before about repealing the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Repealing the Amendment was even a plank in the campaign platform of several congressional candidates in the 2010 Elections, including some who were victorious.

The 17th Amendment provided for the direct popular election of U.S. Senators. The Framers of the Constitution had provided for the appointment of Senators by state legislatures, in order to balance the popularly-elected House of Representatives. Governors still appoint Senators to fill vacancies.

As I noted in my post from January of 2009, Retain Gubernatorial Appointment of Senators, the House was intended by the Framers to be populist because it represented the people to the Federal Union, while the Senate was meant to be a check on that populism by being appointed to represent the States. Thus, the appointment of Senators by the States was an example of the Constitutional principle of federalism, by which sovereignty is shared by the States and the federal Union of States they created. With the popular election of Senators, there is no longer any check on populism and no one to represent the States, which has led to an erosion of states’ rights and the centralization of power in the federal government.

Since that post, I have observed some confusion about the representation of States by Senators because it is often stated that Senators “represent” their States in Congress. However, there is a difference between representing the people of a State, which is what is meant by “representation” in the current usage of the word, and representing a State. In the former case, a Senator considers the people of his State his constituents, while in the latter case he considers the State (i.e. as a sovereign, independent entity) as his constituency. In other words, while the people are now the constituency of both houses of Congress, the States are no longer the constituency of anyone.

The problem is observed, for example, when candidates for the Senate or Senators promise a federal favor for the people of a state at the expense of the rights of that state, there is no one in Congress – or anywhere else in the federal government – to defend the rights of the states versus the centralization of power in the federal government.

Repealing the 17th Amendment and allowing states to appoint Senators would restore federalism by reestablishing the delicate balance intended by the Framers.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Update: The Iraqis Form a Coalition Government

Iraqis formed a coalition government, which took office yesterday. The agreement between party blocs representing the three major groups, the Shi’ite Arabs, the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds, ended eight months of negotiations after no one bloc won a majority of seats in the parliamentary elections. The party led by Sunni Arab leader, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, had won two more seats than the party led by Shi’ite Arab leader and current Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, but was unable to gain a majority.

The major point of contention was power-sharing with the minority Sunni Arabs, who were accustomed to being in power under the Baathist regime. Although they protested some of the details of the implementation of the agreement, one of the members of the Sunni Arab party will serve as Speaker of Parliament, while Allawi will head an agency on security, the powers of which are undetermined. Sunni Arab participation is critical to ending the Sunni Arab insurgency, while the pro-Iranian Arab Shi’ite faction led by Muqtada al-Sadr is part of al-Maliki’s coalition. Like the Sunni Arab insurgents, al-Sadr has suspended his insurgency. President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, continues in office.

Most Iraqis voted by ethnic affiliation. The near-plurality won by the incumbent al-Maliki suggests a lack of dissatisfaction for the Iraqi government’s policies. The al-Maliki government is credited with greatly improving Iraqi security.

The election again consummates Iraq’s parliamentary democracy, although the power-sharing agreement remains fragile. The parties must continue to work together to share power, just as they have been sharing revenue from Iraq’s oil industry, in order to avoid another outbreak of sectarian violence between them. They must also better protect other minorities, such as the several hundred thousand Iraqi Arab Christians, who have been under devastating attack recently by militant Muslims intending to rekindle sectarian violence in the hope of killing Iraq’s fledgling democracy.

I congratulate the Iraqis on their accomplishment. The Obama Administration also deserves credit for having encouraged the three Iraqi groups to share power. Ironically, United States President Barak Obama commemorated Veterans’ Day in South Korea yesterday. He rejected the notion that in the Korean War, American and allied troops had “played to a tie.” Observing South Korea’s thriving parliamentary democracy, Obama rightly declared that the Korean War was “a victory.” I wish that he would also refer to the Liberation of Iraq as “a victory.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Proper Relevance of the Popular Will in the 2010 Elections

Some conservative and Republican candidates had criticized United States President Barak Obama and the Congressional liberal Democrats for ignoring the will of the people while promising to adhere to it themselves if they were elected. Some conservative commentators have declared that the Republicans won the 2010 Elections because the Democrats ignored the will of the people, as if to imply that the politicians should necessarily carry out the popular will and that ignoring it is necessarily improper. It is obvious that the Democrats lost because their policies were unpopular. However, it is necessary to examine briefly the proper consideration by elected public officials of the popular will.

The Framers of the Constitution did not establish a direct democracy, but a representative republic, wherein popularly elected representatives exercise their judgment, which may or may not be in accord with that of the people. In other words, politicians must do what is right, regardless of its popularity.

Nevertheless, the popular will was a relevant issue in the 2010 Elections. Popularity is determined not by public opinion polls, which are not the equivalent of a vote, but by the exercise of the freedom to petition for a redress of grievances and to peaceably assemble. Many Americans expressed their opinion to Congress over the last two years by exercising these freedoms. It was clear that a majority of them objected to the ways in which Obama and the Congressional liberal Democrats were spending their money, especially by redistributing the wealth of the people by taking it from some in order to give it to others. Thus, the Democrats who controlled the Executive and Legislative Branches of the federal government exceeded their constitutional authority, which does not include the power to take from some and to give to others for economic reasons or for any other reason than those enumerated in the Constitution. The American people were concerned not only with the economy, but their right to spend their money as they see fit. They thought it was especially unfair, for example, to have to pay with their tax dollars for the mortgages of their fellow citizens who had been dishonest or greedy in obtaining mortgages for which they were not creditworthy, the policy that sparked the Tea Party movement. Even if the Democrats were to have had authority to spend in such a manner, it would have been reasonable that the people clearly consent to it. The Democrats over the last two years should have taken the popular will into consideration on such welfare state transfer payments in exercising their judgment in the first place.

The representatives of the people should exercise their judgment. They ought not to be criticized necessarily for ignoring the public will if their intent is reasonable, although their judgment may be criticized on its merits and they must be prepared to be held accountable by the public for their unpopular decisions. But when politicians exceed their authority at the expense of liberty, then the public opposition to such an excess ought to be heard, considered and followed. Thus, conservatives and Republicans have been right to criticize Democratic politicians for ignoring the will of the people, not because the Democrats ignored it per se, but because the Democrats exceeded their authority by unreasonably spending the people's money without their consent.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Conservative Analysis of the 2010 Elections, Part II: The Elections Were Also about Several Non-Economic Issues

Public opinion polls had suggested before the 2010 Elections that the American people disapproved of United States President Barak Obama not only on fiscal policies and other policies that affect the economy, but also for funding abortion, his lawsuit against Arizona’s border security law, and his weaker policies on the War on Terrorism. They disapproved of the liberal Democratic Congress even more strongly and demanded the political reform of Congress. The citizens of many states also wanted more fiscal responsibility and political reform in state government.

Political reform, the right to life, border security, and the War on Terrorism were among the issues raised by candidates for federal offices. The U.S. House Republican candidates, for example, had drafted a Pledge to America, modeled on the successful Contract with America in 1994 that was the platform upon which the Republicans won the majority in the House that year for the first time in 40 years and served as the basis for their legislative agenda. The Pledge included platform planks not only on fiscal policies and other policies that affect the economy, but on political reform, a return to Constitutional principles, the right to life, border security and defense.

The voters repudiated Obama and the liberal Democrats in both federal and state elections based upon all of these issues. Republicans won the majority in the U.S. House running on the Pledge to America. A few specific examples of candidates winning on a conservative platform on these non-financial issues are noteworthy:

A number of Republican candidates for state attorney general won election on promises to join the nineteen other states that have already joined Florida’s lawsuit against the Obama Administration’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance. Although there is a financial aspect to this issue, it is being argued on federalism grounds. As I noted in my first post-election blog post, Republican prosecutors have continued to win election to a range of offices, a trend I first observed in the 2009 Elections, about which I also commented in a post-election blog post that year;

Pro-life Republican candidates for Congress did well. The Republican House and Senate caucuses will now be larger and more pro-life. True pro-life incumbent Democrats also did well, while pro-abortion incumbent Democrats did not. The standard of measure for voters of whether a representative was pro-life or pro-abortion was Obama’s federalization of health insurance, an act that required federal funding of insurance for abortion, notwithstanding Obama’s executive order to the contrary, which does not have the constitutional force of law. Voters elected many candidates who challenged self-described “pro-life” incumbents who had voted for the bill;

Republican candidates, especially in the Southwest of the U.S., who ran on a pro-border security platform did well. For example, Republican Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona, whose state was sued by the Obama Administration for enforcing federal law, was easily reelected, while Susan Martinez, a Republican of New Mexico was elected governor of her state on a border security platform. Although Republican Lou Barletta defeated an incumbent Democratic U.S. Representative on a fiscal responsibility platform, he was most known for his anti-illegal immigration policy as Mayor of Hazelton, Pennsylvania;

Another Pennsylvanian, Republican Pat Toomey, won election to the U.S. Senate by criticizing his opponent for voting for the bailouts, the economic stimulus, the cap and trade energy tax bill and the federalization of health insurance. He also pointed out that his opponent had called for a civilian trial in Pennsylvania for the September 11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.

Moreover, there was a general sense that the election of a Republican Congress would provide a check on all of the unpopular liberal policies of Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress. Because many issues were planks of the platforms of conservative and Republican candidates, these newly-elected officials now have a broad mandate for reform.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Conservative Analysis of the 2010 Elections, Part I: The Elections Were about Much More than the Economy and Anti-Incumbency

Democrats and liberals are trying to dismiss the significance of the 2010 Elections by blaming the weak economy and an anti-incumbent sentiment, but the elections were about more issues than those.

To the extent the current economy was of concern to the voters in the federal elections, they were focused on the effectiveness of specific fiscal and other policies that affected the economy, more than strictly on the overall state of the economy. They were concerned about the broader effects of those policies in terms of government debt, and the growth of government power at the expense of the liberty of the people. The electorate was also concerned about other issues, such as the right to life, border security and defense. Voters specifically elected or reelected candidates who ran on conservative platforms on these issues over candidates who supported the policies of United States President Barak Obama and the Congressional liberal Democrats.

In Part I of this two-part series of posts, I shall discuss the impact of economic and fiscal issues on the 2010 Elections and examine the anti-incumbency effect. In Part II, I shall focus on the non-economic and fiscal issues in the elections.

Many political commentators, especially liberal ones, state that the public assigns the political party in power (i.e. the party of the president, regardless of which party controls Congress) responsibility for the economy, giving it credit or blame depending upon its condition. As I have noted repeatedly, this popular view is false, because the economy is not the responsibility of government. Although government significantly influences the economy for good or ill, even the federal government lacks authority to command the economy, while the economy is susceptible to forces beyond the control of any government. There is a distinction between strictly holding government responsible for the state of the economy by automatically assigning credit or blame to the party in power, and specifically favoring or disfavoring its specific fiscal or other policies that affect the economy.

In the 2010 Elections, voters were concerned about those specific policies, among other concerns, which reflected their relatively sophisticated understanding of this distinction. They understood that a party in power is not necessarily responsible for the economy, but disapproved of the Democrats' specific policies the electorate regarded as ineffective and too fiscally irresponsible if it they would have been effective.

By unfairly insisting that the party of President George W. Bush, the Republican Party, was responsible for the economic recession, despite the complicity of the liberal Democratic Congressional majority for exacerbating the mortgage crisis by tolerating easy credit, the Democrats were hoist by their own petard, to some degree, after having been in power for the last two years while the economy has remained weak. Although the economy is not the proper standard of measure for the party in power, after having blamed the previous Administration for it and promising to restore the economy, the Democrats thereby accepted the responsibility for the economy and were rightly punished by the voters for the lack of recovery.

Voters did not hold Obama and the Democrats strictly responsible for the lack of economic recovery by comparing economic statistics at the time of Obama’s inauguration until now and holding them to the false standard that government is strictly responsible for the economy, but that, in addition to rejecting specific Democratic fiscal and other policies that affected the economy, the voters held the party in power to its own false standard out of a sense of justice, while they also expressed their dissatisfaction with the broader effects of those policies.

Moreover, even some of the fiscal and other issues that affected the economy were considered by the voters in non-economic terms, in addition to the fairness of judging the Democrats by the same standard by which they blamed Bush and the Republicans. For example, the voters regarded the burgeoning debt as not only an economic, but a moral issue. They also recognized the threat to liberty of the growing power of government, especially the federal government, and they objected even more than usual to the unfairness of welfare statism, once Obama proposed that taxpayers pay for the mortgages of those who were not creditworthy – the policy that sparked the Tea Party movement that is credited with the success of conservative and Republican candidates in the 2009 and 2010 Elections.

The 2010 Elections were not a general anti-incumbent election. An unusually high number of incumbents lost, but they were mostly Democrats. Dozens of incumbent Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives were defeated, as were two incumbent Democratic Senators, in addition to one who lost in the primary. By contrast, the only two Republican U.S. House members who lost had been elected through scandal or by a special election in which more than one Democrat sought election. In particular, about half of the “Blue Dog” Democratic members of the House were defeated. They are called “conservative” by the liberal media, but most of them voted for much of Obama’s spending and expansion of government. The only two Republican incumbent Senators who lost in 2010 were defeated in the GOP primaries by more conservative challengers. Even in the state elections, the only two incumbents who were defeated for governor, for example, were Democrats. The 2010 General Elections were thus not an anti-incumbent election, but an anti-Democratic and anti-liberal election.

Blog Milestones and Updated Report

This post is my 100th of the year to my blog, which provides an opportunity to report a few milestones and to correct and update the number of visits since my last blog report over one month ago.

My first post this month was my 250th since I launched this blog in November of 2008. A few other significant milestones were reached since my last report. Shortly afterwards, my blog received a visit from sparsely-populated South Dakota, which means that it has received visits from all 50 States in the Union. A few weeks later, my most popular post, The Rise and Fall of Islamic Civilization, was visited for the 500th time, not including those who viewed my blog homepage at the time it appeared there.

In my last blog report, I undercounted the total visits to my blog by over 60. My blog has now been visited over 2,365 times (as always, not counting my own visits and counting only those page views by the same visitor at least one hour apart; there have been around 3,000 page views by all other visitors). Thank you for visiting my blog.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pennsylvania Proves the Key State for the GOP

Pennsylvanians voted for Republicans in the 2010 Elections, shifting the Commonwealth toward the GOP in both federal and state offices more than any other state in the Union.

After being dominated by Republicans from the 1990s to the 2000s, by 2009, the Democrats in Pennsylvania held the office of the governor, two of the three statewide row offices, and the state House, as well as both United States Senate seats (because of Arlen Specter’s return to the Democratic Party) and a 12-7 majority in the state’s U.S. House delegation. The 2010 Elections have resulted in a dramatic shift to the Republicans.

Republicans won the office of Pennsylvania governor for the first time in eight years and a majority of the seats in the state House of Representatives for the first time in four years, while Republicans maintained their large majority in the state Senate. Pennsylvania voters elected a Republican to the United States Senate while Republicans also wrested five U.S. House seats from the Democrats (which tied with New York and Ohio for the most Republican pickups from one state), giving them a 12-7 majority in the state’s U.S. House delegation.

Overspending, political reform and the right to life were the main issues in Pennsylvania. Some of these issues converged particularly in Pennsylvania, as a number of self-described “pro-life” Democratic incumbent U.S. Representatives were defeated after voting for the federalization of health insurance, which included funding for abortion, despite President Barak Obama’s promises to the contrary. Four incumbent Democrats lost reelection to the U.S. House, making a total of five incumbent Congressmen in 2010, including Specter, who lost the Democratic Primary Election. Republicans, led by former U.S. Representative Pat Toomey at the top of the ticket for Senate, ran on unabashedly conservative platforms in a state where Republicans are infamous for being moderate (typified by Specter before his return to the Democrats).

As a harbinger of gains for the GOP, Republicans won six of the seven statewide judicial offices in the 2009 off-year elections, thereby winning a majority on the state Supreme Court, just as the Republican victories in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races that year and the special election to the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts in early 2010 were signs of a Republican resurgence across the Union.

The Republican Governors of New Jersey and Virginia, Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie, respectively, both former prosecutors, are the role models of Pennsylvania Attorney General Thomas Corbett, who was the successful Republican candidate for governor of the Commonwealth. Both Governors are known for reducing spending while resisting any tax increases. Pennsylvanians appreciated Corbett’s role in prosecuting corrupt legislators in both political parties. Once he is inaugurated, he will appoint his successor as Attorney General. Pennsylvanians also rewarded former U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan, who successfully prosecuted a leading state Senate Democrat, with election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The control of the office of governor and both chambers of the General Assembly allows the GOP the opportunity to redraw Congressional districts after reapportionment following the publication next year of the results of the 2010 Census. Pennsylvania is expected to lose at least one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The 2010 Elections in Pennsylvania also provide the opportunity to restore fiscal responsibility to the Commonwealth and reform state government.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Conservative Victories in the 2010 Elections

Although the results of some contests still remain undecided at the time of this post, it is already clear that Republicans and conservatives have won many victories in the 2010 Elections, which were clearly a referendum on President Barak Obama and the Congressional liberal Democrats and their spending, borrowing and taxing, expansion of federal control over the economy, promotion of abortion, weakening of American policies in the War on Terrorism, erosion of states rights and reduction of the liberty of the people.

In the Congressional Mid-term Elections, Republicans have won control of the United States House of Representatives for the first time in four years, realizing their largest election pick-up of seats and obtaining their largest majority since the Great Depression. Although the Republicans fell short of winning a majority of the U.S. Senate, in gaining several seats in the upper chamber, the Grand Old Party has won a majority of the seats on the ballot this year, as only one-third of the Senate seats are contested every other year. The Republican caucus in both chambers will be more conservative than the one it replaces. Many of those Democrats who did prevail in the Congressional elections also ran on conservative platforms.

Federal overspending and economic takeovers, federalism political reform, illegal immigration, the War on Terrorism and the right to life were the main issues in the Congressional elections. The rebuke of the unpopular Obama by the American people was most symbolized by the loss by the Democrats of Obama’s Senate seat in Illinois. By contrast, Rob Portman of Ohio, a top figure in the Administration of President George W. Bush, won election to the U.S. Senate. The impact of the Tea Party movement on the congressional elections was noticeable, despite the losses of some high-profile candidates for U.S. Senate. Several tea party candidates won election to the Senate or House. Even where their candidates won the Republican nomination but lost the general election, there impact was felt in the elections by defeating more moderate Republicans in the primaries, which contributed to the more conservative tilt in the Republican Senate caucus, for example.

The GOP also won the majority of the contests for governor and state legislatures. A majority of states will now have Republican governors for the first time since the Bush Administration, while Republicans have won numerous legislative chambers and several hundred legislative seats across the Union. The GOP, which had long been in the minority in state legislative chambers, will now control both chambers of half the states. Overspending, political reform, federalism and illegal immigration were the main issues in these races where Republicans ran on conservative platforms. In the States, the “laboratories of reform,” Republicans will work to cut spending and taxes and reform government in ways that will provide models for other states and even the federal government. Additionally, the party control of the office of governor and the state legislature impacts on the upcoming congressional redistricting process that will increase the favorability for the GOP in the next election for U.S. House.

Republicans gained in every region, including the Midwest and even in the Northeast. After the 2008 Elections, it appeared as if the Republican Party was a mostly Southern and Western party. Since then, however, the GOP won the New Jersey gubernatorial race and a special election for U.S. Senator in Massachusetts. Those elections proved to be harbingers of a Republican resurgence in the Northeast. In addition to a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania and several of U.S. House seats across the region, Republicans won races for governor and state legislature, gaining control of a number of legislative chambers in the Northeast, including both in New Hampshire and, for the first time since 1962, both in Maine. Of all the states in the Union, the Keystone State shifted most significantly toward the Republicans this year, which will be the subject of my next post. But the region where the GOP realized the broadest gains was the Midwest, where it picked up four U.S. Senate seats (Illinois, Indiana Wisconsin and North Dakota), several U.S. House seats, and did well in state races for governor and state legislature, including gaining both chambers in Minnesota for the first time ever. Ohio matched New York and Pennsylvania as the states with the highest number of U.S. House seats picked up by the Republicans, with five, while Republicans there won the race for governor (behind former U.S. Representative John Kasich, famous for being the architect of the balanced budget the last time Republicans won the majority in Congress) and many state legislative seats. The continued decline of the Democratic Party in the South was highlighted by the gain of a U.S. Senate seat in Arkansas and by the Republican pickup of both houses of the legislature in North Carolina and Alabama, each for the first time since Reconstruction, among other Southern gains in the federal and state elections for the Party of Lincoln.

Additionally, voters in Iowa turned three state Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of gay marriage out of office., while conservatives won several referenda in various states not only on economic and fiscal issues, including labor issues and the federal mandate to purchase health insurance, but also on issues like drug abuse (in California, Oregon and South Dakota) and affirmative action (Arizona). Oklahomans made English the “common and unifying” language and prohibited the use of international law, including Islamic law. Even liberal Rhode Island and Providence Plantations rejected the most ridiculous referendum, one that would have shortened the state’s name to “Rhode Island” because of a false association with the state’s plantations and slavery.

The 2010 Elections were a victory for conservative principles of fiscal responsibility, smaller, limited government, constitutional principles, strong defense, liberty and virtue. Now conservatives must use this opportunity to act upon these principles and build upon their election victories.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Important Election Message for Conservatives

Tuesday, November 2 is General Election Day. There are many federal and state races across Pennsylvania and the United States of critical importance for conservatives.

The most significant are the Congressional elections. Voters will choose among candidates for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the seats in the Senate. Which party controls each chamber is in question for the first time since Democrats won the majority of both four years ago.

Additionally, Pennsylvania is among 37 states electing governors. There are also numerous state legislative seats on the ballot. The control of the Pennsylvania state House of Representatives, for example, currently held by Democrats, is at stake. Several states are also conducting referenda on important issues of interest to conservatives.

This election provides a great opportunity to stop the growth of big government and the concomitant spending, borrowing and taxing that have been harming the economy and reducing liberty, as the first step toward decreasing the size of both federal and state government. Otherwise, government will continue to grow more costly and powerful at the expense of the people. Given the massive spending spree the liberal Democratic majority has begun since winning control of Congress in 2006 and the presidency two years later, this opportunity may be the last one to save America from financial ruin, greater dependence on government and the total erosion of states’ rights. A return to constitutional principles is in order as never before. Similarly, many states like Pennsylvania also face serious fiscal challenges that necessitate a swift reversal of tax-and-spend policies.

Political reform is also a major issue on these Congressional mid-term elections, as well as in state government, such as in the Pennsylvania legislature. Strategies and tactics against terrorism and the defense of the right to life are other significant issues in this election. Candidates who favor fiscal responsibility and smaller government, political reform, effective policies in the War on Terrorism and the right to life must be elected.

Make a plan to vote. Cast your ballot for the most conservative candidate who can win. Encourage those who respect you to vote for these conservative candidates. May God bless America and Pennsylvania.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Purpose of Government Is Not to Solve Problems or Provide Services

There are two oft-repeated statements about government that are closely related. One is that the purpose of government is to solve problems and the other is that government is supposed to provide services. Both of these statements are examples of a misunderstanding of the true purpose of government.

Liberals especially often speak of “problem-solving” as a function of government. There seems to be no limit to the scope of a government that appropriates itself the authority to solve any problem. In other words, liberals believe that government is justified in doing whatever it wants, as long as it is “solving a problem,” regardless of the additional problems the heavy hand of government creates, and regardless of its neglect of its true purpose. The purpose of government is not to solve problems, but to protect the freedom of the people.

Protecting liberty is a duty to fulfill, not a problem to solve. Now there may be problems encountered with fulfilling that duty, but the duty itself is never a problem. In other words, there are no problems for government to solve. I daresay that if a person considers protecting liberty a problem, then that person is unfit to serve the people in public office, for liberty is not an obstacle to solving a problem. Often it is government that is the obstacle to the people’s ability to solve their own problems.

Similarly, many politicians and commentators declare that the purpose of government is to “provide services.” The purpose of government is not to provide services. The protection of liberty is not a service. Sometimes people even carelessly refer to police protection as a “service,” especially when they are arguing for local tax increases as a way to avoid “cutting services.” Police protection is not a “service” because it protects the liberty of the people, which fulfills the purpose of government. Some other so-called “services” that protect the health or safety of the people are not “services,” either, but functions that also protect liberty, at least to a degree. However, these other functions may or may not be necessarily provided by government, whereas only government may exercise the police function. Other services do not protect liberty at all. Providing any kind of services that are not intended to protect liberty distracts government from its true purpose. Moreover, those services that make people dependent on government at the loss of their independence are the inverse of protecting liberty.

Additionally, solving problems and providing services requires public money in the form of taxation that reduces the liberty of the people to spend as they see fit.

Those serving in government must never lose focus on its true purpose. We would be better served by those who hold public office if they refocus on the liberty of the people and discard everything else that interferes with their sacred duty.

The Democratic Threat to Social Security

One can always tell that Election Day for federal offices is getting close in the United States the more one hears Democrats accusing Republicans of wanting to threaten Social Security with cuts in benefits or “privatization.” This scare tactic, targeted to frighten senior citizens away from voting for Republicans, even though none of their proposals would affect retirees or even those close to retirement, is the Democrats’ favorite trick in their playbook, one that has been disproved time and time again.

The most significant threat to Social Security is that, in the absence of reforms, it is going bankrupt. The bankruptcy of the retirement system created by the federal government is being hastened by overspending by the liberal Democratic Congressional and President Barak Obama, including the spending of the Social Security trust fund for other purposes. Unless Social Security is reformed for younger workers, the retirement age will have to be raised, benefits reduced or taxes increased. In fact, the last tax increase on Social Security was part of Democratic President Bill Clinton’s tax increase in 1993, of which no Republican member of Congress voted in favor.

The proposal to allow younger workers to choose to invest a small portion of their Social Security would be less risky for retirees than allowing Social Security to collapse. The current return on the investment of the Social Security trust fund money is low, but it has been low even under the most prosperous conditions. Workers should be allowed to invest some of their own retirement account funds in relatively safe instruments, such as government bonds. The risk in investing in stocks, which have always gained value over the long term, is minimized by the restriction on the amount of one’s Social Security account that could be exposed to risk (usually the proposal is only for a few percent); moreover, the risk would also be minimized by diversity (e.g. through a managed mutual fund, or a combination of equities, bonds and other instruments) instead of requiring the retiree to pick and choose individual stocks.

The argument about the current decline in the stock market is only relevant for those who sell during the downturn. Like homeowners whose home values have declined, those whose stock values have declined only realize those losses when they sell. Indeed, those who have not sold their stocks have benefited from a significant recovery in the value of stock, even though it is down from the highs it reached in 2007 before the recession.

The Democrats’ claims that Social Security is threatened by Republicans, even though they are false, underscore the fundamental problem with a government pension system: its vulnerability to politicians. However, the threat is not from any supposed mean-spirited politicians who would renege on the pledge of providing income for retirees who have contributed to the fund and relied upon it for their retirement plans. The threat is from those liberal Democratic politicians who would renege on the pledge of Social Security by spending away the money.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Governors Barbour, Pawlenty and Christie Rally for Corbett and Toomey

Governors Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Chris Christie of New Jersey campaigned at the Reading Airport in Pennsylvania today for fellow Republican PA Attorney General Tom Corbett’s campaign for Governor and former United States Representative Pat Toomey for U.S. Senate, both of whom also attended. All of the governors have been mentioned as possible presidential candidates. I was among the several hundred people attending the More Jobs, Less Taxes rally. The local Tea Party participated in the event.

State Senator Dave Argall, Republican nominee for U.S. Representative, contrasted himself with his Democratic opponent by declaring the main difference between them is that he would not vote for Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for reelection as Speaker of the House.

U.S. Representative Jim Gerlach, campaigning for reelection, stated that he had grown tired of the metaphor that President Barak Obama and other Democrats were using about the Republicans having “driven our country into a ditch.” Gerlach noted that since the Democrats took over Congress in 2007 and the White House two years later, they have only used the “left turn signals” and have thereby made the economy and federal budget worse.

Pat Toomey pointed out his opponent’s record of voting for all of the massive spending and expansion of federal power policies of the Obama Administration, with a record of voting with Pelosi 100% of the time. Toomey predicted that Pennsylvanians would not elect a “San Francisco Democrat” as their U.S. Senator.

Haley Barbour recalled his service as Chairman of the Republican National Committee at the time of the Republican mid-term sweep in 1994 in which the GOP gained control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. Barbour observed that the 2010 mid-term elections are much more important, given the massive debt being passed onto the next generations. He observed Pennsylvania’s key role in the federal elections, as well as the signficance of the gubernatorial election.

Tim Pawlenty stressed the importance of providing a better climate for business. He remarked that the Democrats are spending our money as if they were at a wedding reception with an open bar instead of a cash bar.

Chris Christie, who made a grand entrance by arriving late in his jet and pulling up in it to the back of the open hangar, cited his success as governor based upon his prosecutorial experience as a former U.S. Attorney in emphasizing Corbett’s prosecutorial experience as Attorney General. He stated that the problem in both the U.S. and Pennsylvania is simple: spending too much, borrowing too much and taxing too much. Therefore, Christie said, the solution is simple: spend less, borrow less and tax less. The neighboring governor predicted the end of the heavy influence that special interests have enjoyed in Pennsylvania under unpopular Democratic Governor Ed Rendell.

Tom Corbett promised to follow Christie’s example, reform state government and create a better economic climate in the Keystone State in order to prevent young Pennsylvanians from moving to other states.

Vote on Election Day, Tuesday November 2!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pennsylvania October Political Updates

There were positive developments recently on two matters I had posted on previously.

The Pennsylvania Senate has passed the Castle Doctrine law, but the version the upper body of the General Assembly approved differs from the one passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month, which I had posted about at the time.

Pennsylvania’s tax-and-spend Democratic Governor, Ed Rendell, has acquiesced to Republican and industry opposition to his proposed tax on the natural gas industry which is developing the Keystone State’s huge Marcellus Shale natural gas reserve. The natural gas industry is a boon for Pennsylvania’s economy, which helps generate taxable income. The proposed severance tax on the natural gas industry would have been in addition to the relatively high corporate taxes every corporation large and small already faces in the Commonwealth. Thus, the abandonment of the proposed severance tax prevents Pennsylvania from killing the goose that laid the golden egg. I had posted on this issue in May in my post, Analysis of the Pennsylvania Primary Elections.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cinfici Is Polled Again

For the second time this year, I have been surveyed for a major public opinion poll. In March, I was surveyed during the debate over the federalization of health insurance (See my post from March of this year, Cinfici Polled by Rasmussen Reports). This time, I was polled by Monmouth University on Rep. Jim Gerlach's (R-PA) reelection.

After being asked about my likelihood of voting, I was polled this evening on whether I would vote for the Republican Gerlach or his Democratic opponent, whether I approved of the job Gerlach was doing in Congress, whether I had a favorable opinion of either candidate or an unfavorable one, and whether I preferred the Republicans to be in the majority in Congress. I answered that I would vote for Gerlach, approved of his job performance and had a favorable opinion of him and an unfavorable one of his opponent, and preferred the Republicans to be in the Congressional majority.

I was also asked whether I had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of President Barak Obama, to which I responded I had an unfavorable opinion. I was asked whether I thought the country was on the right or wrong track, to which I responded that it was on the wrong track. Finally, in addition to the usual party preference and demographic questions, I was asked whether I had a favorable of unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party movement, to which I responded that I had a favorable one.

I felt patriotic to participate in these polls, especially in expressing my opposition to Obama. Of course, I feel even more patriotic whenever I fulfill my sacred duty of voting, as the election “is the only poll that counts.” Remember to vote on Tuesday, November 2.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wilders is Right about Islam, but Wrong to Call Muhammad a “Pedophile”

Geert Wilders, the Dutch member of Parliament known for his resistance to the Islamification of Europe, has rightly noted that Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, is viewed as model for Muslims. He cites Muhammad’s militancy as the basis for militant Islam. However, I caution critics of Islam not to insult Islam’s most revered figure unnecessarily.

For example, Geert Wilders called Muhammad a “pedophile.” Muhammad married a young teenager, but she was not a child in the biological sense, which is what is meant by the word, as she had reached puberty, meaning she was capable of reproduction, which is the biological definition of adulthood. This distinction between pedophilia (a deviant sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children) and pederasty (attraction to teenagers who have reached puberty) is not a legal one, which is why there are laws in many jurisdictions against statutory rape (sexual relations with a minor regardless of whether or not the minor is a biological adult), for example, and why parental consent is required for marriage below certain ages, depending on the jurisdiction, although it is allowed for older teenagers without even parental consent.

Although she may have been too young to fully give informed consent under contemporary Western legal standards, Muhammad’s marriage to his young bride is thus not the equivalent of pedophilia. I would also note the significantly lower life expectancy during the Seventh Century in Arabia as a mitigating factor. A similar charge of “pedophilia” is being made by the enemies of the Christian Church against the Catholic priests who are accused of abuse in order to make the scandal seem even worse than it is, even though most of the cases involved alleged victims who were not pre-pubescent children. Therefore, we as Christians ought to be sensitive to Muslims about this matter by being careful with our choices of words.

Muhammad is similarly often accused of “adultery” because of his practice of polygamy. Although it is true that Muhammad had several wives, Muslims cite his marriages as proof of his magnanimity, for he would marry widows in order to rescue them from poverty, into to which women, who had no property rights, would be plunged if they had no children to care for them. Although one can certainly make a reasonable and convincing argument about the immorality of polygamy, the point is that we should be more educated about Muhammad and the origin of Islam in order to avoid counterproductive statements that unnecessary insult and provoke Muslims, and instead make the most reasonable and effective arguments that cannot be easily dismissed as unreasonable insults. It is not necessary, for example, to call Muhammad an “adulterer” in order to refute Islam, when one can instead argue the merits of monogamy versus polygamy.

Legal Docket: Geert Vilders; The Federal Mandate to Purchase Health Insurance

Dutch Prosecutors Ask for Geert Vilders’ Acquittal

Geert Wilders, a member of the parliament of the Netherlands who is most known for resisting the Islamification of Europe, is charged with hate speech against Muslims. His prosecutors have taken the unusual step of asking the judge to acquit him, citing the fact that Gilders criticized Islam, not Muslims. The case is seen as a major test of free speech in the West versus increasing efforts by Islamists to silence critics of Islam.

Update: A Federal Judge Rejects the Obama Administration Defense in the States’ Lawsuit against the Federal Mandate to Purchase Health Insurance

The federal district judge hearing the lawsuit filed by Florida and joined by nineteen other states against the Obama Administration’s mandate to purchase health insurance has rejected the Administration’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The judge ruled that the Obama Administration had contradicted itself by claiming that the mandate to purchase health insurance was a tax, for which the federal government has authority, after having called it a “penalty,” for which it does not have authority under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, which gives Congress the power to regulate only interstate commerce (in order to prevent states from imposing tariffs on goods that are traded across state lines, i.e. to establish a free trade zone within the federal Union). The mandate is part of the Administration’s federalization of health insurance. For the first time in U.S. history, it would require the purchase of a product as a condition of residing within the States of the Union, which the States participating in the lawsuit consider an abuse of federal power and a violation of state sovereignty. The judge dismissed the Obama Administration’s contradictory argument on behalf of its motion to dismiss the case as similar to “Alice in Wonderland” and allowed the case to proceed.

In another federal case brought by private citizens in Michigan, a federal judge upheld the federal mandate, but the media reports did not explain her rationale. It appeared that the judge assumed that the federal government has constitutional authority over all economic activity, instead of only interstate commerce. The state lawsuit is considered the stronger case, at least until the federalization of health insurance is complete and private citizens can prove they have actually suffered harm.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Congratulations, Chile

I congratulate the Chileans for their marvelous accomplishment of rescuing the 33 miners who were trapped for 70 days in the San Jose gold and copper mine in the Atacama Desert. The miners endured the longest known period of being trapped underground in world history.

The mine partially collapsed on August 5, confining the miners nearly half a mile below the surface. For the first 17 days, no one on the surface knew whether the 33 men were alive until a probe broke through to the safety chamber in which the miners were at the time of the collapse – to the surprise and relief of the world. Shift supervisor Luis Urzua, who received the honor he had requested of being the last miner rescued, is credited with organizing the men and looking after all their needs in the dark mine with little food or other provisions. Once communication was established with the surface, among the first items the miners requested from the surface were articles of Christian devotion.

The Chilean mine collapse reminded me of the flooding of the Quecreek coal mine in Pennsylvania in 2002, from which all of the trapped miners survived because of an unprecedented successful rescue operation after they had managed to find a small area of higher ground to escape drowning. Governor Mark Schweiker coordinated the state’s effort to save the miners, backed by United States President George W. Bush, who provided critical federal support. I am proud that a Pennsylvania driller was among the Americans who assisted in the Chilean rescue, an effort for which much state-of-the-art technology was necessary. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera not only backed his state’s effort to rescue the miners, but this extraordinary leader had encouraged the effort to continue try to locate the miners when others doubted they were still alive. Like Schweiker, he kept the public informed of the advancement of the operation.

As in the case of the Pennsylvania mine disaster, it is hoped that much will be learned about mine safety and rescue from the Chilean disaster. Mining is of great economic significance in Chile, as it is in Pennsylvania, which made this rescue critically important. Copper, for example, is among Chile’s main exports to the United States, along with fruit and wine. Trade between the U.S. and Chile, one of the most prosperous Latin American states, increased dramatically after the free trade agreement negotiated by the Bush Administration was implemented in 2004.

One thing, of course, that has already been learned from the Chilean miners is the human ability to endure such a difficult confinement for such a long period. How they survived their ordeal will be studied, and the efforts of the rescuers from the surface to supply the miners with all of their provisions will be a model. Also worthy of praise are the brave Chilean rescue workers who had to take the unusual step of being lowered into the mine chamber in which the 33 miners were trapped.

Chile suffered a major earthquake earlier this year. The successful mine rescue is a sharp contrast to that deadly disaster. It also punctuates the celebration of Chile’s Bicentennial, which occurred during the miner’s confinement. Chileans are right to proud of themselves for accomplishing something no one else ever has.

Thank God for this successful rescue. I pray the miners make a full recovery. Viva, Chile!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Some House Democratic Candidates Are Trying to Run Away from Obama and the Liberal Democratic Congressional Leadership

There have been reports of Democratic candidates for United States House of Representatives distancing themselves from fellow Democratic President Barak Obama and the liberal Democratic Congressional leadership and some of their more unpopular policies, such as the federalization of health insurance and deficit spending. Some Democratic House candidates are avoiding identifying themselves as Democrats even in districts with a history of voting Democratic. Others are campaigning openly as moderates or even as conservatives.

I can report on one such Democratic candidate locally, Tim Holden, in whose Pennsylvania district I once was until the redistricting after the 2000 Census. The usually safe nine-term incumbent is running television advertisements in which he calls himself a “conservative,” despite his record of having provided the one-vote margin necessary to pass the Clinton tax increases – the largest in American history (the so-called “deficit reduction” plan that proposed to increase the federal budget deficit, which it did), as well as voting for gun control during the Clinton Administration and for public money for pornographic “art,” while voting against missile defense. Among other pork-barrel spending for which he has voted, Holden infamously voted to maintain the federal subsidy for sugar growers, even though there are no sugar growers in his district, after having accepted thousands of dollars in contributions to his campaign committee from the sugar special interests. Although he occasionally votes with the Republicans, especially when his vote is not needed by the liberal Democratic leadership, as it was for the Clinton tax increase, the most important vote he casts every two years is for a liberal Democrat for Speaker of the House, such as when he voted for Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Indeed, all Democratic candidates for House, no matter what their ideology or platform is, are committed to voting for her for Speaker, which would keep control of the legislative agenda of the House in the hands of the liberal Democratic leadership. Similarly, all Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate would vote for liberal Democrats to retain control over the legislative agenda of the upper body. Control of the legislative agenda means that the leadership determines which bills or amendments it wishes to permit to be considered or debated and under what rules. In other words, the minority can pass only non-controversial bills or amendments. The majority party also holds the majority on all committees, where legislation is drafted in the first place, and names all of the chairmen.

That many of these Democratic candidates are running away from the unpopular Obama and the liberal Democratic Congressional leadership to such an extent that are trying to pass themselves off as not liberal is a good sign not only for Republican and conservative congressional candidates, but for conservatism in general. It suggests that even liberal Democrats recognize the rising popularity of common sense conservative ideas like smaller government, more liberty, a strong defense and public morality. As is often true in elections, liberals sometimes can only win by trying to sound like conservatives. Let us not be fooled, but vote for true conservatives pledged to vote for conservative congressional leadership.

The Pennsylvania House Passes the Castle Doctrine

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has passed the Castle Doctrine, which defines the right of homeowners to use force with deadly weapons, including firearms, in order to defend themselves.

The Democratic-majority lower chamber of the General Assembly approved Republican-sponsored House Bill 40, which codified the Castle Doctrine, by an overwhelming margin of votes this evening. The measure moves to the state Senate.

For a more detailed analysis of the Castle Doctrine and House Bill 40, see my post from November of 2009, Pennsylvania Considers the Castle Doctrine.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Popular Global Shift Rightward

I have been observing a shift toward the right in popular elections around the world this year. I have posted about this trend in commenting on the elections in the United Kingdom, Italy and Australia, in which the results for conservative parties constituted improvements over the previous corresponding election, while the conservative party was reelected in Columbia, the ruling conservative party won a plurality of votes in the Swedish national elections, and a moderate Republican won a special election to the United States Senate campaigning on a conservative platform. Recently, that trend has continued in some noteworthy ways.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders’ party won more seats in the Dutch parliament, even before the recent terrorism threats to Europe were reported. He is known for his opposition to Islamism. Although his party will not hold any seats in the cabinet, the coalition Dutch government depends upon its support to govern.

The Venezuelan opposition united against the autocratic Marxist leader, Hugo Chavez in legislative elections. Venezuelan voters deprived Chavez’s party of his nearly unanimous majority, which it had enjoyed for five years because the opposition had boycotted the previous election. The opposition gained more than a third of the legislative seats. Without a two-thirds majority, Chavez and his supporters will no longer be able to force through whatever legislation it wants.

In Brazil, center-left President Lula da Silva’s chosen successor unexpectedly has been forced into a runoff with centrist Jose Serra. Despite the popular Lula’s leftist rhetoric, except for ending privatization, he has continued the anti-inflationary policies of his centrist predecessor (who came from the same party as Serra), which has allowed Brazil to attract foreign investment and to prosper. Brazilian voters were concerned about scandals in Lula’s party, the possibility that its presidential candidate would favor a more leftist economic policy than Lula and her apparent support for legalizing abortion. Although she is likely to win in the final vote, her failure to win a majority decreases her mandate.

Although most of these elections represented only slight changes in electoral trends, except in the British elections, where their impact was correspondingly the most significant, they collectively signify a popular rightward shift toward smaller government, more liberty and more effective resistance to terrorism that could be a harbinger of even larger changes in elections to come.